All about Christmas

Where did world-famous Christmas decorations originate? Where does the Christmas tree come from? The answer to many questions around Christmas is – the Cultural Heart of Germany. The regions of Saxony and Thuringia embrace the festive season like no other and we’d like to invite you to dive into our Christmas treasure chest. The festive season might be different this year but the spirit remains: Take a look at our videos, pictures and virtual experiences or try our recipes for very special delicacies!

Dresden Striezelmarkt - © Lukasz Kedzierski

Of Christmas flair and festive markets

Mulled wine, magical lights and festive music: Saxony and Thuringia are home to some of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas markets. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt, for example, is the country’s oldest Christmas market and stunning historic venues such as Eisenach’s Wartburg Castle provide the perfect setting for charming festive experiences. While there might not be much in terms of actual Christmas markets this year, we can still get into the mood. Take a look Erfurt’s Christmas market from a bird’s eye perspective!

Explore Seiffen’s virtual Christmas markets

In the heart of the Ore Mountains, Seiffen is the centre of Saxony’s unique tradition of handmade wooden art and toys. Christmas decorations such as intricately crafted pyramids or nutcrackers are beloved round the world and workshops across town are busily working all year round. This year, the powers of technology bring you the world’s first virtual Ore Mountains Christmas Market. A click will take you onto Seiffen’s market square with many stalls selling the products of local craftspeople.

Church in Seiffen
Seiffener Kirch - (c) Rainer Weisflog
Farbglashü - © A. Liebau

Thuringia: birth place of Christmas tree baubles

Did you know that the origins of Christmas tree baubles can be found deep in the Thuringian Forest? In this region, glass manufacture goes back to the 16th century and in the 19th century, someone had the genius idea of making glass baubles for use as Christmas tree decorations. The rest is history, as they say. The glassblowing town of Lauscha is still the centre of handcrafted Christmas bauble making and, fun fact, not just that: Glass gherkins, which are very popular as tree decorations in the US, are also being produced here!

Saxony’s unique Christmas arts and craft

In the Cultural Heart of Germany, Christmas decoration is an art. For centuries, master craftspeople have produced unique items, which have found their way out in festively decorated living rooms around the world. In Saxony’s Ore Mountains region, skilful artisans produce a dazzling range of wooden Christmas decorations, such as the charming “Wendt & Kühn” angels, while further East in Upper Lusatia, uniquely shaped “Moravian Stars” are still made by hand like hundreds of years ago. Take a look behind the scenes!

Seiffen - Wendt & Kuehn - Wooden art and toys - (c) Katja Fouad Vollmer
Weimar Christmas Market - (c) M. Schuck / weimar GmbH

Where the Christmas tree comes from

When it comes to Christmas traditions that went global, Thuringia is a strong contender. The first public Christmas tree was set up on Weimar’s market square in 1815 when a local bookseller moved his own Christmas tree from his living-room outside for all the children to enjoy. And the Thuringian aristocrat Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen “imported” the tradition of the Christmas tree to her new home country when she became Queen of England in the 19th century, much to the delight of all the children in the Royal family!

No Christmas without carols

Christmas needs singing and some of the most popular Christmas carols originated in Thuringia: The lyrics to “O du fröhliche”, an absolute German favourite, were written in the 19th century by a philosopher and dedicated to the children living in a refuge he had founded. The classic “O Tannenbaum”, also known in English, was written by 19th century Thuringian lyricists and is sung to a traditional tune from the 18th century. Not to forget: Thuringian-born Johann Sebastian Bach gave the world his beautiful “Christmas Oratorio”.

Georgenkirche Eisenach - (c) M. Schuck / Thuringia Tourism Board
Dresdner Christstollen - Dresdner Stollenschutzverband / K.-Grottker

Festive treats from the Cultural Heart of Germany

The Cultural Heart of Germany loves its festive food and no other is more famous than the Stollen cake. It originated in Dresden, where Dresdner Christstollen has a tradition going back hundreds of years. To this day, it is prepared by local master bakers and only they are allowed to use the Dresden Stollen brand. Take a look at our Stollen info and learn all about its ingredients, try your hand at a simple Christmas biscuits recipe, follow our instructions for making your own mulled wine or look at our “delicious” video below!

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Cultural Heart of Germany